what inspires + moves
I find inspiration everywhere; as one who thrives and lives in the creative, I’m learning to live openly to all the places where that life-giving, sacred force is held, shivering and vibrating with beauty. I’m learning to stop, to listen, to recognize, to name, to thank.
Sometimes it is something very common and easily passed over; a few weeks ago, I found myself utterly mesmerized by frost-glazed maple leaves littering the grass next to the sidewalk I walk down to work. I couldn’t stop staring at them and nearly ran into a mom taking her child into the nearby school playground.
Sometimes it is something that gives me pause and stirs me up; the past few days, it’s been these two duets, by Feist and Ben Gibbard, and St. Vincent and Bon Iver, respectively, that I just can’t stop listening to. Their quiet beauty has simply not stopped astonishing me.
But particularly, this morning, I find my inspiration in the comfort and challenge of written words by a handful of women whose books are marked up and well-loved on my bookshelf; women like Anne Lamott, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Rachel Held Evans. As a girl who grew up in a church that didn’t exactly encourage or recognize the role and wisdom of women leaders, I find myself now drawn to these women for their strength, their thoughtfulness, and their boldness. These are NOT the meek, submissive creatures held up as examples in some circles; instead, they charge forward, speaking of love, of doubt, of forgiveness, of the down-and-dirty-sometimes-life-is-shitty-but-I’m-still-fighting-anyway kind of strength that makes you walk taller, bolstered by the fact that you are equally created, that you are loved, and that your voice is worth hearing. I am so grateful to have women like these, among so many that I know and love in my own life, to look up to and be inspired by.
“You were loved because God loves, period. God loved you, and everyone, not because you believed in certain things, but because you were a mess, and lonely, and His or Her child. God loved you no matter how crazy you felt on the inside, no matter what a fake you were; always, even in your current condition, even before coffee. God loves you crazily, like I love you…like a slightly overweight auntie, who sees only your marvelousness and need.”
– Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith
“What is saving my life now is the conviction that there is no spiritual treasure to be found apart from the bodily experiences of human life on earth. My life depends on engaging the most ordinary physical activities with the most exquisite attention I can give them. My life depends on ignoring all touted distinctions between the secular and the sacred, the physical and the spiritual, the body and the soul. What is saving my life now is becoming more fully human, trusting that there is no way to God apart from real life in the real world.”
– Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith
“Sometimes I wonder if I might have spent fewer nights in angry,resentful prayer if only I’d known that my little systems – my theology, my presuppositions, my beliefs, even my fundamentals – were but broken lights of a holy, transcendent God. I wish I’d have known to question them, not him.”
– Rachel Held Evans, Evolving in Monkey Town
I am more moved and whole through these things than I can speak of. From the soft light of strings of Christmas lights that watch quietly while I fall asleep to the feeling of my niece’s arms wrapped tightly around my neck, as I find my inspiration, I find that God, too, is in these places. Nothing particularly holy or theological or biblical; just in spaces of quiet, of kindness, of light, of the moments where you recognize we’re all humans, trying to figure out our messiness together. It has become so much less about belief or doctrine for me, and so much more about recognizing that we all are connected to the same life-force, the same creative thread binds us together. And that’s what we are, whether we want to be or not — we’re together in this thing, side by side.
If that can’t inspire me to a life lived with eyes wide open, then I don’t know what can.
What inspires and shakes you?
[image credit here]